How to know the best tests to reveal your true cardiac risk

Heart attack and stroke are the number one killers but according to the Cleveland Clinic, they are 90% preventable. In fact all cardiovascular disease is 90% preventable - even if you have a family history. What does it mean to be preventable? Well that depends on where you are looking.

In my world, prevention is about diet, lifestyle, nutrient supplementation and using technologies that reduce the effects of the environment on us – as well as regular detailed testing to alert us of anything that may be bubbling to prevent deterioration. It’s always better to take care of our bodies as early as possible than to wait until they start breaking down. Your symptoms are a sign that something is off. It’s your body trying to get your attention. 

I haven’t written in a while, and why do I feel compelled to write today? I was at a functional medicine conference over the weekend and was reminded of some important things. I think it’s necessary to educate ourselves to be our own health advocates. I have had several conversations about cholesterol and statins lately – mostly because the person’s total cholesterol was high and that their MD was going to want them to prescribe a statin.

The number one prescribed drug in the world is a statin drug. And if you don’t know, statins are used to lower cholesterol. 

Did you know that more than 50% of people who are hospitalized with heart attacks have perfectly normal cholesterol levels? And that more than 50% of people with elevated cholesterol levels have perfectly normal hearts? This was discovered in the Framingham study.

This begs the question, does decreasing cholesterol levels decrease your chances of heart attack or stroke? I’ll let you ponder that one.

 For today, I wanted to show you some tests that may be better indicators of your cardiovascular health. 

  1. Standard lipid panel. And not for reason it is normally ordered. We want to check the triglyceride/HDL ratio. If this is more than 2, there is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. It shows the strongest association with cardiovascular risk. According to one study, total cholesterol is NOT strongly correlated with heart disease, but this ratio is strongly related.
  2. Lp(a): this is largely genetically determined unlike many other components of CVD risk. It is good to measure to know and then take appropriate action with prevention as much as possible.
  3. ApoB: this is shown to be a better predictor of cardiovascular risk than LDL and non-HDL cholesterol
  4. Myeloperoxidase (MPO): This promotes inflammation and oxidative stress both linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
  5. Homocysteine: an independent marker of cardiovascular risk (particularly strokes and inflammation). It is important to know ideal ranges rather than lab ranges as these change over time with the declining health of the population.
  6. Calcium Heart Score: this is a special CT scan that will show the absence or presence of plaques around the heart. Generally not recommended for people under 40. 

Hopefully this will give you something to think about, and maybe take to your doctor to ask for these tests if they haven’t already been done. For my current patients we are moving to more of a focus on “healthspan” and will be implementing more things to evaluate, reveal and treat hidden things that could be accelerating aging and quality of life.

Longevity is a word we all understand. We all want to live a long life, but we want that life to be a healthy one. We want our HEALTHSPAN to match our lifespan. That is our goal at Wellness Architecture – if you want to start your journey towards a healthy heart and increase your HEALTHSPAN, fill out this application today to see how we can help. You can also visit our testimonials page and check out what other patients have to say.